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Two unitary authorities proposed for Northland

Whangarei District Council has voted to lodge an alternative application to the Local Government Commission for a two unitary authority structure for Northland.
Updated: 15/04/2013 11:51 a.m.

​Whangarei District Council has voted to lodge an alternative application to the Local Government Commission for a two unitary authority structure for Northland.

Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth said many in the Whangarei community indicated that they would like to keep the current two-layer structure of a Regional council and three District councils but would like to see them work together better. 

“Outside of this, the feedback from our meetings, was fairly evenly split between one unitary authority for all of Northland or two; one for the top half and one for Whangarei and Kaipara.

“The status quo must be considered by the Commission under this process and they have asked for alternative applications as well.

“We agree with the other Councils that removing a layer of local government and combining the responsibilities of District and Regional councils could work well, but we think that an area as big as Northland, with such diverse communities requires two authorities to ensure good local decision-making. 

“Our application is therefore for two unitary authorities; one that covers the area currently covered by the Far North, and one that combines the area covered by Whangarei and Kaipara.

“The decision for us (Council) really came down to maintaining communities of interest and local identity while balancing that with efficiency and effectiveness.

“This proposal also provides an opportunity to restore effective governance in Kaipara while ensuring the unique challenges they currently face are recognised and managed appropriately,” he said.

Mr Cutforth said reorganisation was not just about being more efficient (doing things for less) but also about being effective (doing the right things with the resources available) and providing local infrastructure and local services to meet the needs of local communities.

“On behalf of our ratepayers we have invested heavily in local infrastructure and our core services are in good shape.

“During the drought our dams have held up with no need for water restrictions, the Puwera landfill has resource consent for the next 30 years, our wastewater has been upgraded across the District with $65 million spent over the past five years.

“Our roading network has been enhanced by Speddings Road, Porowini Ave, Kamo bypass and the soon to be completed Lower Hatea River Crossing will complete this phase of projects.

“All of these have been paid for by our ratepayers and we want to see them benefit from this local investment into the future.

“We believe this can be done in the best interest of our ratepayers under a two unitary authority model,” he said.

“Given the Commission’s tight deadline we had limited time to consult with the public before preparing  our alternative application.

“But we needed to lodge an application within the timeframe given to us, to ensure we, and our community, have a direct voice in the process if the Commission decides not to go with the status quo.

“The public are concerned with issues like Port ownership, environmental controls and the debt in Kaipara and these are addressed in the application to the Commission,” Mr Cutforth said.

“If the process gets to the next stage and the Commission decides it does want change then it will put forward a preferred proposal and seek public submissions in the coming months.”

“We will keep the community informed as we go through this process,” he said.



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